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Snarling Sharks crunch hated Canucks

HP PAVILION — If you needed further proof the Sharks and Canucks don’t like each other, you didn’t even need to wait for the opening faceoff.

Before the puck even dropped, Ryane Clowe and Alexandre Burrows were pushing and shoving each other after Burrows took a crack at Logan Couture before the faceoff. Clowe and Burrows each received minor penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct. And for the first time in Sharks franchise history, they began skating 4-on-4 to begin a game.

After the game, Couture explained the chippy start preceding the opening faceoff:

Post-Game Audio: Sharks Center Logan Couture

“Burrows tried to put his head into my face so I just lifted his head up and then he sucker punched me and I don’t know, it was a good start to the game.”

But Vancouver played sloppy hockey in the first 3-1/2 minutes of the game. Two Canuck turnovers led to a 2-0 Sharks lead and a 4-1 pounding over the hated Canucks on Sunday night.

Captain Joe Thornton said after the game:

Post-Game Audio: Sharks Center Joe Thornton

“You give up that many power plays and you hope this is the last one we have to kill and then another (penalty) comes. We stayed with it. We did a good job there and finally got our chance. We’re able to find one there and break it open a little bit. We knew we had to score at that point. We had pressure and had the zone time so it was good.”

The win helps take away the sting from last season, when the Canucks dominated the Sharks with a 3-0-1 mark against San Jose.

The feeling is definitely mutual, said Canucks forward Burrows:

Post-Game Audio: Canucks Forward Alex Burrows

“We obviously dislike each other. We’ve seen them in playoffs a couple of years ago, a Western Conference rival. It makes for good games and a good rivalry. I know the fans like it and for us as players they won today but we’re going to battle back and be ready for the next one.”

The Sharks were 2-for-8 on the man advantage while the Canucks a woeful 0-for-7.

For once, it wasn’t Patrick Marleau scoring a pair of goals —he got just one — but fellow linemate Joe Pavelski.

Jason Garrison tried to clear the puck and Thornton intercepted it at the slot, beating Schneider blocker side to give the Sharks the lead.

Vancouver’s Alex Edler committed a worse turnover with an errant pass. Pavelski would steal the puck and shoot it from the slot off the glove of Schneider and into the net. That would prove to be the game-winning goal. Coming from an All-Star player like Edler, that was just brutal.

The Canucks’ lone goal was scored midway in the second period. Burrows fired a shot from the right circle. Niemi made the stick save but the puck took a big rebound into the left skate of Boyle and into the open net.

But Vancouver’s Maxim LaPierre — known for being a dirty player — would get an interference penalty for shoving Andrew Dejardins. The penalty was extremely poor timing after Burrows’ goal got the Canucks back into the game.

The ensuing power play for the Sharks made it a two-goal lead and the Canucks never responded.

A surly Lapierre got chippy with a Vancouver reporter after the game who asked about the play:

Post-Game Audio: Canucks Center Maxim LaPierre

“As a hockey player I was trying to cut to the net, that’s it. You’ve seen it so why are you trying to get me to explain it, to make sure you have a good story for tomorrow?”

Marleau’s goal gives him a league-leading nine on the young season. Marleau and Thornton lead the league in scoring — goals plus assists — with 13 points each, while Pavelski is tied for fifth with 10.

Post-Game Audio: Sharks Left Wing Patrick Marleau

The zebras had their eyes on Clowe after his early penalties and fight with Zack Kassian.

Clowe had already been penalized for a questionable holding the stick infraction, then was whistled for a suspect high-sticking call against Keith Ballard. Clowe was skating around the Sharks net and tried to check Ballard. At one point Clowe grazed Ballard’s helmet with the blade of his stick —  enough for the referees to raise the arm.

Clowe was so incensed on his way to the penalty box, he slammed his stick against the glass a few times and shouted obscenities not suitable for a family audience on SFBay.

As a result, Clowe was given a misconduct and ejected with a game misconduct. As a last show of defiance, he slammed his stick on the ground on the aisle leading to the Sharks dressing room to a thunderous ovation.

The fans obviously knew the officials had blown the call. But Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan was more concerned about the penalties picked up by Clowe:

Post-Game Audio: Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan

“Obviously we’re not happy about the penalties and that’s all I’m going to say about it. I owe Ryane Clowe my conversation, I don’t owe any of you guys (media) my conversation with Ryane. I have a ton of respect for Clowey as do all of his teammates. He’s going to continue to be a very important player for our hockey club.”

Translated, Clowe needs to do a better job of maintaining his composure. The Sharks are very lucky to have killed off a four-minute double minor.

Pavelski also addressed the penalties:

Post-Game Audio: Sharks Center Joe Pavelski

“You give up that many power plays and you hope this is the last one we have to kill and then another (penalty) comes. We stayed with it. We did a good job there and finally got our chance. We’re able to find one there and break it open a little bit. We knew we had to score at that point. We had pressure and had the zone time so it was good.”

Pavelski capped the scoring for the night taking advantage of another dumb penalty by the Canucks. On the man advantage, Thornton passed it to a charging Pavelski from the high slot that beat Schneider on the low blocker side.

Murray got into a better scrap with big Aaron Volpatti. The two heavyweights exchanged blows and Murray got in three good punches. His teammates applauded his actions by standing and tapping their sticks against the boards.

The Canucks hit the post five times, four in the first two periods. That kind of puck luck was definitely on the Sharks side and other than the Burrows goal, San Jose continues to get the good bounces. They even won wearing their alternate third black jerseys.


Clowe’s eight penalties tied a franchise record for most penalties in a game. The last time a Sharks player had eight penalties in a game was Link Gaetz on March 6, 1992 vs. Pittsburgh. Fans will recall Gaetz was the Sharks enforcer and had some rather entertaining brawls in the team’s inaugural 1991-92 season. … Coach McLellan became the second fastest head coach to win 200 games, reaching the mark in 333 games. The head coach to reach the 200 win mark the fastest was Bruce Boudreau, who did it in 326 games (Credit: Elias Sports Bureau). … Thornton’s assist on Pavelski’s third period power play goal was his 764th career assist, moving into sole posession of 37th place on the all-time NHL career assist list. … Stuart’s assist on Joe Thornton’s first period goal gave him 155 points with the Sharks. He is now tied with Mike Rathje for second in all-time Sharks scoring by defensemen. Tonight was the first time in franchise history the Sharks started a game 4-on-4 because of penalties preceeding the opening faceoff (Credit: Elias Sports Bureau). … The Sharks had a season-high 51 team penalty minutes in the game, and combined with Vancouver for a season-high 84 combined penalty minutes. … The Sharks set a franchise record by starting the season 5-0-0. Before tonight, the Sharks best start came in 2008-09 when they began the year 4-0-0.

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